EAST PATCHOGUE, N.Y. — A small plane crashed into the yard of a Long Island home on Tuesday, bursting into flames and killing the only person aboard, authorities said.
A mother and infant inside the house in the community of East Patchogue were not injured, Brookhaven Town spokesman Kevin Molloy said. The house had exterior damage from a fire caused by the crash shortly after 9 a.m.
“The mother heard the explosion. There was shattered glass in the baby’s room. Neither was injured. She removed the baby and left the house,” Molloy said.
The plane’s pulverized wreckage lay scattered next to a backyard play set after the crash.
“All of a sudden I heard what sounded like a plane coming down,” said a neighbor, Chad Whidman. “It was really, really loud and then there was a pause and then there was a loud boom and then another loud boom.”
The accident came only four days after another small plane narrowly missed a house when it crashed north of New York City, in Purchase, New York, after taking off from the Westchester County Airport. Richard Rockefeller, the great-grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, was killed.
Molloy said the plane that crashed Tuesday landed in between two houses on the tree-lined working-class street.
Whidman said he believes the pilot was aiming for the space between the two homes to avoid hitting them.
Another neighbor, Bill Hughes, described a horrific crash scene.
“I looked and I saw the black smoke coming up. … We all ran down there. The whole backyard was just an inferno. … It was in flames. You couldn’t get near it,” he said.
“Luckily it went between both houses. The plane actually came through. You can see where it sheared the trees,” said Hughes, adding that the he heard the engine “rumbling” before the plane crashed.
Detective Lt. Kevin Beyrer of the Suffolk County police said the plane was headed east but was traveling southwest when it crashed. He said the National Transportation Safety Board would have to determine why the aircraft was traveling southwest.
“It’s very, very fortunate that he traveled in the path that he did,” Beyrer said. “Because of that no one was hurt in any of the houses.”
A two-block radius was evacuated as a precaution.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was a single-engine Lancair Columbia with one person was on board. It was flying from Republic Airport in Farmingdale to MacArthur Airport in Islip, the agency said.